Today, I am excited to announce the launching of a new Small Claims Report Section, on the ASMP website dedicated exclusively to the ongoing effort by ASMP and other visual artists’ groups to achieve our community’s top legislative priority in Congress: the enactment of legislation that creates a small claims court as an alternative to federal court litigation that routinely proves too costly and burdensome for photographers, as well as illustrators, graphic artists and other visual artists. The new section will chronicle ASMP’s efforts to convince Congress to adopt an alternative, straight-forward, cost-effective system in which our members and others can seek relief for the type of copyright infringements that have become all too common today—especially in the online environment.
The launching of this new section comes at a critical time. After well over a year of preparatory work by ASMP and its allies in the visual artist community—the American Photographic Artists, Digital Media Licensing Association, Graphic Artists Guild National Press Photographers Association, North American Nature Photography Association and Professional Photographers of America—we are on verge of seeing the introduction of proposals in the House of Representatives to create a small claims copyright tribunal in the United States Copyright Office. Specifically, within the next couple of weeks, not one, but two small claims bills are expected to be introduced in the House. Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA) and Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), both members of the House Judiciary Committee, have announced their intention to drop in separate bills to create a small claims alternative to federal court litigation. Both bills are based in large point on the recommendations set forth by the Copyright Office in its comprehensive and well-received 2013 report entitled “Copyright Small Claims: A Report of the Register of Copyrights.”
The postings in this section will be written jointly by ASMP’s outside copyright counsel, Mike Klipper and myself. As you may know, Mike is a more than 40-year veteran of copyright legislation battles on Capitol Hill as counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee, in-house legislative counsel to two major trade associations, and in private law practice. Since beginning his representation of ASMP last year, Mike has proven to be an invaluable resource to ASMP’s Capitol Hill based activities, particularly with respect to the House Judiciary Committee’s ongoing review of possible revisions to the Copyright Revision Act of 1976.
— Tom Kennedy, Executive Director